Yvonne Mason used a lot of ink correcting Trump’s grammar
When retired middle and high school English teacher Yvonne Mason wrote a letter to Donald Trump asking how he was going to keep kids safe after the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, she didn’t even expect a response. But she especially didn’t expect this response.
Trump did reply to Mason’s letter, but when she read what he wrote, the former English teacher in her just couldn’t help herself. The letter was riddled with grammatical errors, and she was going to correct them. So she grabbed a pen.
Mason circled and highlighted and wrote notes, just like she would on one of her students’ assignments. And then, she put the letter in a new envelope and sent it back to Trump.
“If I had received this from one of my students, I would have handed it back without a grade on it and said ‘I hope you left the real one at home,'” she told the Washington Post.
She has a point. The letter was full of unnecessarily capitalized letters, like in “Nation,” “Federal,” “State” and “States.” Those aren’t proper nouns, so they should have been all lower case. Mason also took issue with Trump’s propensity to start sentences with “I,” a big no-no for grammar snobs.
But grammar isn’t all Mason took issue with. In many of her notes, she called Trump out for making claims without any evidence to back them up, like when he said he claimed he directed the Department of Justice to issue a rule banning bump stocks, or that he signed legislation that would require more stringent background checks for would-be gun owners.
Mason told the Washington Post that one of the assignments she had her students do required writing letters to their elected officials, and that she taught them the importance of making good arguments, rather than just spouting off opinions.
“They rewrote them until they were correct and they put forth a good argument,” she said, unlike Trump in his letter.
While it’s likely the letter wasn’t actually written by Trump, but rather a staffer trained in mimicking his voice and style, this still matters. While plenty will say Mason is just nitpicking and finding inconsequential things to criticize about the president, this letter is evidence of sloppiness and lack of attention to detail, things that filter through to bigger issues, like his diplomacy and policymaking.
As Mason put it, “How you speak, the words you choose and your mastery of the English language all convey something about you, whether you’re a high school sophomore or a junior senator.”
Mason still hasn’t heard back from the White House about the edits she made. We have a feeling she won’t, but her letter is going viral online, and hopefully that’s enough for Trump to get the message.